The fundamental advantage of using anti snoring pillows is to stop someone from snoring. For people who have tried using anti snoring pillows, they have claimed to be satisfied with the product. The habit of snoring is best avoided by using anti snoring pillows. Anti snoring pillows keep the user’s head in a position that avoid the sound of snoring. For those who have been sleeping with a snoring partner, rewarding him or her anti snoring pillows would be best. Most local health stores are selling anti snoring pillows at an affordable price. Today online shops are also advertising the specially designed pillows. The anti snoring pillows are completely described at their respective company site. Browse various stores to provide better options.
Anti snoring pillows have many advantages but you must know the reason behind the case of snoring. It is best to treat any underlying condition that triggers snoring. Visit your physician immediately and discuss snoring solutions. Snoring usually arise as first sign of a cardiovascular disease.
Elevate head using anti snoring pillows because this position promotes easy breathing. Choose smooth anti snoring pillows to provide comfort during sleep. If the special pillows don’t work, there are also other snoring solutions such as pills and mouthpieces available in stores.
As much as everyone have already been enticed to purchase the latest anti snoring pillows, there are few reasons why others don’t really like it. For most adults, the availability of anti snoring pillows is the best solution for their snoring partners. However, some of these pillows do not reduce shoulder and neck pains. Some manufacturers use rough materials that are totally uncomfortable to users. Yes, the pillow gives support to the spine but the fabrics greatly affect the effectiveness of the anti snoring pillows.
If you want to purchase anti snoring pillows, make sure to check its features. You can do a little reading about it online. You can join forums for discussions about the best anti snoring pillows. This avoids future problems when the product is already with you.
People often think that snoring is part of their sleeping habit. That is why many of them just ignore and do nothing about it. People must be aware that snoring can lead to respiratory ailments and major cardiovascular diseases.
Choose anti snoring pillows that are smooth and comfortable to use. Selecting a pillowcase made of silk or cotton is also essential. So when buying, always select the right fabric the goes with the product.
If you are one of those people who tried to stop snoring by using natural remedies without any success, there are a few medical devices that could help you overcome this condition.
If you stopped drinking alcohol and dairy products before bed time without success, tried sleeping on your side and taking decongestive tablets, and still you are losing the snoring battle, this would be the answer for you. CPAP is a facemask that pushes air through your airways to keep them open during the time of sleep. This machine is the size of a shoebox with a flexible tube and mask. With CPAP, it does not matter where the obstruction would be occurring. Apart from this, CPAP is very safe and has a high success rate.
The other choice that you can have a look at would be surgery. When choosing this option it would be advisable to think very carefully, this should be your last resort. With the option of surgery there are a couple of things that can be done to cure your snoring troubles…removing excess throat tissue, shrinking and removing throat tissue through low levels of radio frequency, injecting Sclerosing to tighten up the soft pallet etc.
These medical remedies have been designed to help or prevent suffering from snoring and they are effective but expensive as well.
Everyone snores for different reasons. Let us take a look at some causes and the remedies for them, because believe it or not, no matter what your cause is, there is a cure. Firstly let us take a look at your sleeping posture, when you sleep flat on your back… it causes the flesh of your throat to relax and in turn blocks the airway.
There are 3 ways to rectify this…sleep on your side, elevate your head or even sewing a tennis ball onto the back of your pyjama top will stop you from sleeping on your back.
Next, we have nasal and sinus problems. If your airways are blocked it makes inhalation difficult and a vacuum is created in the throat, which leads to snoring. Now there are 2 ways to fix this…either use a humidifier in your bedroom or try using nasal decongestants or nasal strips to help clear your nasal passages.
There are however, certain instances where it is better to call your doctor about your snoring problems. For instance, if you wake up choking and gasping or stop breathing in your sleep, or if you fall asleep at inappropriate times such as at the dinner table, in your tomato soup, it could be the signs of a more severe underlying problem and professional treatment should be sought.
You don’t need to research for hours or to spend a fraction of your savings if you want to finally end your problems related to snoring. There are simple solutions that you can consider that can help you properly manage the problem as soon as you hit your bed. Perhaps the best approach to snoring is to change your lifestyle. A few tweaks of your lifestyle can serve as the best remedies for snoring, if you are serious in your efforts to finally end snoring.
So what are some of the best lifestyle changes that can serve as some of the best remedies for snoring and give you a better life? You can start by saying no to alcohol. If you can’t instantly dismiss the bottles, you can at least say good bye to alcohol in the evening just before you sleep. If you are a smoker then you also need to say good bye to those regular sticks. Smoking will be a big burden on your lungs thus putting you at risk to smoking. Finally, you can count on regular exercise as one of the best remedies for snoring. With regular exercise, you can boost muscles in the neck thus preventing the narrowing of your mouth and muscles.
Snoring can be funny at times but remember that this can be linked to something serious. Not only is it a nuisance but also 75% of people who snore can be suffering obstructive sleep apnea. It is a condition that is manifested by disrupted breathing for short periods during sleep. This condition increases the risk of developing heart disease. Simply put, there’s a health issue that needs to be addressed when you snore. With this in mind, it pays to learn the remedies for snoring.
If you gained weight and starts snoring, then the remedy for you is to lose weight. Your remedies for snoring should start by identifying its cause. If you gained weight around the neck, it results to squeezing of the internal structures of your throat thus resulting to snoring. Natural and non-invasive remedies include change in position during sleep, avoiding alcohol and most importantly losing weight.
Change of position during sleep helps by not allowing the base of your tongue and soft palate to collapse on the back of throat and cause snoring. Avoiding alcohol helps in combating snoring by not reducing the resting tone of the muscles in the back of the throat that usually happens when intoxicated with alcohol. Weight loss on the other hand reduces the pressure around the neck caused by extra fats and tissues. These are the non-invasive remedies for snoring.
Snoring can be quite frustrating for many people especially if they can’t seem to find a good night sleep due to the noises made by the person. Snoring is a common problem and this refers to the sound made through the nose of a sleeping person. If you notice this in your household then you should be alert since it is an indicator of obstruction in breathing. The good news is that there are solutions that can be tapped for this health issue. These methods include losing weight and trying out different positions when sleeping as it addresses airway restriction. Surgery like the uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is also considered as the last resort to snoring.
Though these solutions work, the available snoring devices particularly the jaw supporter have become effective alternative options to stop snoring. The jaw supporter has brought many benefits to those individuals troubled by their snoring partner or family member. This device should be used just before going to sleep. Snoring devices like jaw supporters may appear a little odd at first but the relief it may bring can help a person achieve that much-desired good night sleep and make other family members happy. These devices help the person maintain the position of the jaw so that the airways will always be open. Snoring is a serious sleep disorder. So, taking timely and responsive actions to deal with the problem is a must.
Snoring is considered to be a health issue because it is associated with smoking and the drinking of alcoholic beverages. Moreover, it is said to be caused by the narrowing of the throat as a person ages. Abstaining from vices and leading a healthy lifestyle are just some of the methods on how to stop snoring. On the other hand, some of the causes of snoring cannot be addressed by just eating plenty of vegetables and having regular exercise. They need a thorough observation of physicians who specializes on this type of disorder. Usually, these roots of snoring need longer period of medication and therapy.
Although there are plenty of suggestions on how to stop snoring fast, many of them have not been scientifically proven. Moreover, the procedures that worked for some might not work for others. The proper steps that should be taken on how to stop snoring should consider the distinct condition of an individual. This ensures that the method that would be employed fit the classification of the specific snoring case. In this way, people will not spend time, money, and effort in the quest for the right cure for the problem. It would be ideal to find the right therapy at the first instance.
Sleeping is a great way to rest, gain energy and relieve stress. Not only is it beneficial for the production of new cells and stimulation of hormones, it is also one of the best ways to keep your body healthy. And it is cost-free! Almost all human activities require spending money, but with sleeping, it is free, and you can do it anytime, anywhere. But all the great benefits of sleeping can disappear when your sleep is disturbed, such as when your husband snores. The sound that snoring creates interrupt the peaceful sleeping pattern your head clamors for before it can finally induce the rest of your body to sleep well. But there are things you can do to help your husband stop snoring. One great trick regarding how to stop snoring is to elevate his head by adding another pillow under it. This action allows easier breathing, which is great for reducing snoring. However, make sure that you use suitable pillows under his head, or else he will wake up with a cramped neck. Another thing you can do is to reposition him. If he snores while lying on his back, turn him sideways. This position makes it less likely for his tongue to block his airway, which helps in easier breathing. Also, quitting smoking is another snoring solution. Smoking irritates the passageway of air, which leads to snoring, so if you stop smoking, you are less likely to snore. Do these ‘how to stop snoring’ tricks and enjoy a goodnight’s sleep.
So here we show you how to nip each type of sleep-disturbance pattern in the bud with the best self-help techniques. (See ” Sleep-Disorders Clinics” on page 80 for help in determining when your sleep problem is serious enough to deserve a sleep-medicine specialist’s attention.)
PATTERN #1: TROUBLE FALLING ASLEEP
Release the pressure valve. It’s one thing to have trouble sleeping. It’s quite another to start worring about having trouble sleeping. Before long, the worry itself can start to interfere with your ability to fall asleep, even when the initial cause of sleeplessness is gone. Fortunately, there’s much you can do to eliminate this second tier of trouble.
One thing that adds to the pressure of falling asleep is seeing the bedroom clock–a reminder of how late it is. “The clock in the bedroom is poison in most cases,” says Dr. Hauri. “It puts too much pressure on you to fall asleep. You only struggle with yourself, trying harder and harder to sleep the later it gets.” He suggests that you set your alarm and stick it in a dresser drawer. Hide your watch, and throw a towel over the VCR clock, too.
Relaxation techniques (such as meditation, counting your breaths, slowly tensing and relaxing muscles, and others) can help. Find one you’re comfortable with and remember not to try too hard to relax, or you’ll just make yourself more tense. Dr. Hauri offers this counting method in his book No More Sleepless Nights (John Wiley & Sons, 1990):
With your eyes closed and while lying in bed, let your body go limp. Count slowly from 100 to 0, seeing the numbers being written one below the other, like they’re on descending stair steps. Feel your body relax. Keep counting until you fall asleep.
Control in-bed time. When time spent tossing and turning is added to sleep time, the in-bed period may begin to spread too far, and quality of sleep can be affected. “It’s like water spreading over a big area. The longer you stay in bed, the shallower your sleep will be,” says Dr. Hauri. “Most people stay in bed too long when they haven’t slept through the night. So they learn to associate the bedroom with tossing and turning, not sleeping.”
So retire to your bedroom only when you’re sleepy. Don’t make yourself go to bed at a certain time if you aren’t tired.
Some sleep experts say that you shouldn’t read, eat or watch TV in bed. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, they say, get up and go to another room until you’re sleepy again, no matter how many times a night this happens. the goal is to associate your bedroom with sleepiness (and pleasure), not frustration.
Watch your tolerance for you-know-what. It would be hard to find someone who didn’t know that caffeine can hinder your ability to fall asleep. But here’s something you might not realize: Your body’s tolerance of caffeine can be dramatically altered as you grow older.
Try reducing the caffeine in your diet for a few weeks. (Decrease it slowly, becayse some heavy caffeine users experience headaches, irritability and other withdrawal symptoms at first.) If you sleep better and are less anxious, caffeine could be the culprit in your insomnia. Dr. Hauri recommends that if you have insomnia you should consumer fewer than two eight-ounce cups of coffee a day, and never have caffeine after lunch.
One more thing to keep in mind: Even if caffeine isn’t keeping you from falling asleep, it can cause you to wake up more often during the night, and can make sleep less restful.
Sleep in synch. Many people who can’t fall asleep are suffering from delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). Their circadian rhythm–a kind of internal clock–is out of synch with the world they live in.
They find themselves going to sleep at 3 a.m. and staying in bed until noon. They may get the normal length of sleep, but it comes at the wrong time. And when they have to get up early, they suffer sleep deprivation.
Fortunately, there is a solution: bright light. How bright is bright? “About four to five times brighter than ordinary indoor lighting,” says Al Lewy, M.D., Ph.D., director of the sleep and mood-disorders clinic at the University of Oregon Health Science Center.
Bright light helps to reset the body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock, which has been found to control hormone levels, body temperature hormone levels, body temperature and arousal. “You use the bright light as soon as you wake up for 30 to 120 minutes per day. Then each day, or every other day, you move your wake-up time (and therefore your light-exposure time) to 15 minutes earlier, until you’re waking up at the desired time.
“This should automatically move your sleepiness time earlier so you fall asleep earlier,” says Dr. Lewy. Though success with this technique has been reported in a matter of days, he says. “It usually takes a few weeks. And you may need to use light exposure every other day or so, 15 to 60 minutes duration, to maintain the correct sleep phase. If you’re waking up early already, obviously you don’t need to shift your wake-up time progressively earlier. But you do need to get bright light as soon as you wake.”
You can purchase a light box, available through some drugstores and medical-supply houses. “They’re simply portable lights that use ordinary fluorescent bulbs, covered by a plastic diffuser,” says Dr. Lewy. The light should shine on your face from above at a 45-degree angle, while you look forward the light (but not into the light) once or twice a minute. It’s best to scan the light from side to side.
PATTERN #2: UNSOUND SLEEP
Increase body heat. Regular exercise has often been advised as a means of improving sleep. Now researchers have discovered a link between exercise and nightime body temperature. And it’s becoming clear that with exercise, how and when really matter.
The body’s temperature normally goes up during the day and down at night, sometimes by as much as 2[degrees]F. But insomniacs have less variation: They don’t get as warm in the day or as cool at night, and their sleep is shallow and fragmented. But if you heat up your body with a workout about six hours before bedtime, you’ll start cooling down just as you want to go to sleep. Be sure not to exercise sooner than three hours before going to bed, or the stimulant effect of the workout might keep you awake.
Aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up is what you need–walking, running, cycling–and you must be consistent. Three times a week will help your heart, but it might not be enough to promote sleep. Twenty to thirty minutes, five days a week is a good target to shoot for.
Nix the nightcap. Many people like to have a nightcap to put them to sleep–29 percent of those reporting sleep difficulties in a national survey use alcohol to help them sleep. While alcohol may induce sleep. While alcohol may induce sleep, at the same time it lowers the quality of your sleep and leaves you prone to waking up during the night. And drinking to induce sleep can lead to dependency.
Forget the smokes. Nicotine is a stimulant. It raises blood pressure, gets the heart going faster and makes your brain more active. If you’re a heavy smoker, nicotine withdrawal during the night may awaken you.
Feel drained. If you often find yourself waking up to urinate at night, try walking around the house or doing some other mild activity for 5 or 10 minutes an hour or so before you turn in. This helps circulate fluids into your kidneys, stimulating you to visit the bathroom before retiring. You should also avoid drinking liquids two hours before retiring.
Go for peace and quiet. If you’re easily distracted during the day, you might be easily distracted at night, too. Besides wearing earplugs, you might try turning on a fan to mask distracting noises, or try listening to a tape of a waterfall, waves or rain.
Calibrate the room temp. A room that’s too cold or too hot can awaken you. Make sure before you retire the room temperature is comfy.
Tame your tummy. Avoid heavy, spicy foods at night. They might increase your production of stomach acids and give you indigestion and awaken you.
PATTERN #3: TOO EARLY ASLEEP, TOO EARLY AWAKE
Get the light treatment. Many persons have no trouble falling alseep or sleeping soundly through the night. Their sleep appears normal. But they cannot remain awake beyond the early evening hours and they cannot
manage to sleep until sunrise.
They’re suffering from advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS), which is essentially the opposite of delayed sleep phase syndrome. Whereas the latter is prevalent in young persons, advanced sleep phase disorder becomes more common with age.
Once again, a light box offers a solution: “One or two hours of bright light, to end about one hour before the desired sleep time, is best,” says Dr. Lewy. “Try this for two weeks. Shift the light-exposure time gradually later (15 minutes a day until you reach the desired time), say from 7-9 p.m. to 8-10 p.m. Gradually decrease the daily exposure to 30 to 60 minutes.”
Not all persons experience early awakenings have ASPS. “Depression can also cause early-morning awakenings,” says Dr. Walsh.
Even people who have relatively little trouble with asthma during the day can have major difficulties at night. The reason: the body’s 24-hour, or circadian, cycle. “In people with normal lungs, lung function falls during sleep–but only by about 8 percent, so it isn’t a problem,” says Dr. Martin. “But in asthmatics, lung function can fall by as much as 50 percent during sleep–with dire consequences. ”
In addition, certain natural hormones that reduce inflammation and promote airway openness–like epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol–reach their lowest levels in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, other hormones that narrow the airways and promote mucous production, like histamine, increase at night.
Other biological and environmental factors contribute to making nighttime a nightmare for asthmatics: allergens, body positions, even undiagnosed sinusitis. How to counteract these factors? Based on interviews with leading asthma researchers, here are the key steps to help you get a good night’s sleep.
See the right doctor. if you suspect nocturnal asthma, consult an asthma specialist. A diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment. “We have a saying: `All that wheezes is not asthma,’” says Dr. Martin. “Many types of lung disease, from congestive heart failure to emphysema, can get worse at night. ” Whether you have asthma or not, you’ll probably need a complete round of allergy tests. People with asthma are particularly allergy-prone, and allergens can cause nighttime wheezing. “Who wants to start taking asthma medications for the rest of his life, if he’s really wheezing because of the cat or the pillow or something else that’s easy to correct? ” says Thomas Platts-Mills, M.D., head of the Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center at the University of Virginia.
Clean your bedroom. If your allergy tests come up clean, you can skip this suggestion and the next one. But if allergies are contributing to nighttime wheezing, you may have to do some cleaning and redecorating.
Dust mites are a common bedroom allergen. These microscopic relatives of spiders live in mattresses, Pillows, even carpeting. Plastic covers for your pillows and mattresses, and regular washing of bedclothes in hot water can keep them to a minimum. If feathers are your problem, you’ll have to trade your feather pillow or down comforter for a hypoallergenic one. Removing carpets in favor of washable wood or vinyl floors can help, as can regular vacuuming and dusting. And if pet dander’s the problem, banish Fido or Fluffy from the bedroom. (For a complete guide to household allergen reduction, see “Allergy-Proof Your Home,” Prevention, January 1994.
For some asthmatics, the nighttime poltergeist is pollen, says Dr. Platts-Mills. “Patients who are hot and bothered with hay fever and want fresh air often put fans in their windows. That blow, more pollen into the room, and then they may even end up in the hospital.” A shut window and an air cleaner is a better approach.
But you’ll still have to be meticulous about cleanliness, says Dr. Platts-Mills. “We think a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter can be useful in the bedroom, but it won’t be useful if you have your head on a pillow full of dust mites or if you have a carpet full of cat allergen.” (Talk to your physician for advice before buying an air filter.)
Be careful out there. It’s important to avoid allergens all day long, not just in the bedroom, says Dr. Spector. “One of the main reasons people have nocturnal symptoms is because of allergic exposure early in the day. Let’s say you have contact with a cat. You might have an immediate reaction, but hours later you may get a second reaction, known as a late-phase reaction.” Talk with your doctor about triggers that may be causing a delayed response–whether it’s fur, smoke or perfume–and ways to avoid them.
Measure your breath. A physician can show you how to use a peak flow meter, a simple, inexpensive device that measures the maximum amount of air a person can blow out. Dr. Martin instructs patients to use it when they go to sleep, first thing in the morning and if they wake up in the middle of the night, “even if they don’t feel tight.” These objective measurements can help your physician make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment program that’s right for you.
Reschedule medications. In the old days, says Dr. Martin, asthma medication was taken at regular intervals. Now, specialists use an approach called chronopharmacology: targeting medication so it reaches peak effectiveness when asthma is at its worst, at night.
Based on Dr. Martin’s pioneering research with asthmatics in his sleep laboratory, he makes several suggestions about the timing of leading asthma medications. (Of course, don’t make any changes in your medication without consulting your physician. These include:
* Sustained-release theophylline A methylxanthine that opens the bronchial passages, this medication is best administered around dinnertime; that’s 6 p.m., if the theophylline is a once-daily preparation. “Blood levels of this type of theophylline preparation usually peak around 10 hours after it’s taken,” explains Dr. Martin.
* Corticosteroids “Classically, oral steroids have been used in the morning,” says Dr. Martin. “But we’re finding now that if you use these potent anti-inflammatories at 3 p.m., you get a much better improvement in asthma at night.” Dr. Martin’s laboratory hasn’t completed studies yet on timing of inhaled steroids, “but right now it appears to be a similar story; that they’re most effective taken at 3 p.m.”
* Long-acting beta-agonists, such as salmeterol (Serevent) These drugs open the airways and have been found to be very helpful for people with nocturnal asthma. Since the effects last about 12 hours, says Dr. Martin, when you take them isn’t so critical. One important note: Salmeterol is not an emergency rescue drug. If you’re having difficulty breathing, “Use your short-acting beta-agonist inhaler [Proventil, Ventolin, Maxair, for example] instead,” says Dr. Martin. He emphasizes the point: “Some people who’ve tried to use salmeterol for breathing emergencies have died; it just doesn’t act that quickly.”
Treat sinusitis. An estimated 70 percent of asthmatics suffer from chronic sinusitis and postnasal drip. If cleared, both day and night asthma symptoms often improve, sometimes dramatically. Sinusitis symptoms include headaches above or below the eyes, often related to changes in the weather; stuffy nose; excess mucus, often yellowish; some blood in the mucus. Sometimes sinusitis has no symptoms; a physician must detect it.
The key to treating sinusitis is to decrease congestion so nasal passages can drain. Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter or prescription decongestant. Regular irrigation of the sinuses with a saline solution, one to five times a day, also helps. A minority of people develop sinus infections, and antibiotics may be needed. Surgery is a last resort for chronic sinusitis.
Treat sleep apnea. In sleep apnea, breathing stops briefly but many times during sleep. Treating it can improve some people’s asthma. An apnea diagnosis must be made by a physician and may require an overnight stay in a sleep laboratory. Treatment includes weight loss; avoiding alcohol; not sleeping on your back; medication; and in severe cases, a mask that you wear at night called a nasal CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) to keep your airways free and clear from obstruction.
Stop the acid. It’s possible that for some asthmatics, that bitter taste of acid reflux in the mouth means wheezing in the lungs. In gastroesophageal reflux, acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus or mouth. It’s worst at night because of the horizontal position. In rare cases, says Dr. Platts-Mills, people may actually breathe that acid into their lungs, contributing to inflammation.
Dr. Platts-Mills treats asthmatics with antacids, and suggests some self-help measures to reduce reflux. These include elevating the head end of the bed about four inches using books or bricks; sleeping on a high pillow; avoiding irritating foods; avoiding alcohol; avoiding late-night eating; and losing excess weight that puts too much pressure on the stomach.
If you’re wheezing at night, take the time to talk to your doctor about designing a program to help you. Remember, nocturnal asthma is treatable. The benefits of top-notch asthma control and a good night’s sleep will last you all day long.
Do your legs sometimes wake you up long before your alarm clock? Has your husband ever complained that you kick him in your sleep? Have you ever bolted awake, feeling as though you’re tripping off a curb?
For many of us, such nocturnal jostling makes sleep anything but restful. Some of these experiences are nothing to worry about. Others are more troublesome and may require medical attention. Here, some of the most common nighttime occurrences:
A startling awakening is called a hypnic jerk – a harmless total body reflex that wakes people as they’re falling asleep. “It involves a temporary disruption in the part of the nervous system that controls our sense of balance,” says Gary Richardson, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Service at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. If we feel we’re losing balance just before we’re completely asleep, we will involuntarily jerk our legs and arms to “catch” ourselves.
Leg cramps are usually the result of poor circulation or inactivity being stuck at a desk all day). They tend to be more frequent among pregnant women and the elderly. Less common causes include hypothyroidism (underactivity of the thyroid gland), kidney problems, or a shortage of minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, says June M. Fry, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Medical College of Pennsylvania.
To treat a cramp, stretch in the opposite direction of the cramp. For example, if your calf is tightening up, the best thing to do is flex your foot and grab your ankles or toes to stretch your calf. Getting up and walking also helps because it warms and stretches the muscles. For severe cases, a doctor can prescribe quinine.
Periodic limb movements are involuntary leg jerks that occur during sleep. “No one knows the cause, but they’re a response of the nervous system,” says Dr. Fry. Most people are awakened for only a few moments by such movements. If they’re stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep, however, see your doctor. They could be a side effect of a medication you’re taking or a symptom of a disorder such as kidney disease.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a chronic leg jerk condition that can cause thrashing spells of 90 or more jerks per hour. The condition can happen to anyone, but pregnant women, the middle-aged, and elderly report it more often.
Sufferers complain of feelings of crawling and tingling in the legs. At night, the sensations are usually temporarily relieved only by getting up and walking, causing most victims to be severely sleep-deprived.
The actual cause of RLS is elusive. It can run in families, and many experts speculate that RLS is caused by a central nervous system disorder. It may also be a symptom of anemia or a complication of diabetes, kidney failure, or alcoholism. Some antidepressants can also cause it. The condition is treatable, but no one method works for everyone. To alleviate symptoms, some people take a hot bath or stretch before going to bed. You’ll need to experiment to see which remedy works better for you. But see a doctor if RLS interferes with your daily activities.
Snoring is such a problem for me that I recently decided to get in touch with Gary Zammit, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Institute at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, who offered me an exam. Frankly, I wanted to know how to stop snoring.
Zammit examined my throat, took a medical history and asked me a long list of questions about both my snoring pattern and sleep habits. The questions were wide-ranging – from how much coffee I drank to whether I ever saw or heard things that weren’t there as I was falling asleep or waking up (hypnagogic hallucinations). He was looking for two things: clues as to why I snored and warning signs that might indicate a condition called sleep apnea, a serious medical problem of which snoring is only a symptom.
According to Zammit, my snoring-onset scenario is not unusual. For men, the age-related snoring stats read like this: An estimated 5 to 7 percent of boys snore. By our early 30s, the number doubles. The biggest snoring spike starts as we approach our 50s and moves upward until, by our early 60s, as many as half of us make some obnoxious noises in the night.
But why do these tissues in our throats – which haven’t peeped since day one – suddenly start rattling, waking up our domestic partners as we near 40? Three reasons:
* Extra pounds. From the time we’re teenagers, we tend to slowly put on weight. Fat cells in the mouth and neck then narrow our airways, and the narrower the passage, the more turbulence is created – as whitewater rafters know.
* Girlie-man muscles. Aging, and the concurrent loss of muscle tone, may start us sliding toward snoring, says Neil B. Kavey, M.D., the director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Past the age of 35,” he says, the muscles that line the airways are not quite as good as they once were at holding the airway open.” Again, the more narrow the airway, way, the more turbulent the influx of air.
* Bad vibrations. Not only do aging muscles hold the airway open less efficiently, but they also start vibrating, waking up the good woman who was kind enough to cuddle with you.
Beyond these three major factors, there are several other potential causes of nighttime noisiness, such as:
* A packed proboscis. If your nose is stuffed up – by either a cold or allergies – you may gulp air through your mouth, which speeds up airflow. Try elevating the head of your bed for a better breathing position.
* Tonsils or tumors. Yes, grown-ups can get tonsillitis, too. Sometimes that’s enough to precipitate snoring. The same is true of swollen adenoidal tissue. Any kind of asymptomatic growth – from a perfectly benign lesion to a potentially serious tumor – can be the source of snoring.
* Anatomical abnormalities. A deviated septum, in combination with the ravages of age, may set you snoring. “Sometimes people with short necks are prone to snoring,” says Dr. Kavey, “as are people with overbites and small jaws.”
* latrogenic interference. Cool word, huh? Pronounced eye-a-tro-GEN-ic, it means caused by a medical treatment, and is often used in malpractice suits. Some drugs, such as sedatives and certain antihistamines, can cause swelling of the membranes that line the throat. Ask your doctor if a medication could be the cause of your annoying nocturne.
* Cigarettes. If increased risk of heart attack, lung cancer, stroke and emphysema haven’t done the motivational trick for you when it comes to quitting, you probably won’t care, but how’s this? Caution: The surgeon general also thinks smoking can cause snoring. It irritates and narrows the throat lining and increases mucus buildup.
* A belt before bed. Alcohol’s a muscle relaxant, and those relaxed muscles may tremble in the turbulence.
* A bone-dry bedroom. If your bedroom is very dry, throat tissues can swell. In some cases, a humidifier may help.
Finding no obvious cause for my snoring, Zammit suggested I spend a night at his snoratorium to undergo polysomnography – a sleep study that would monitor pretty much everything my body did while I was unconscious.
A week later I checked in with Rena and Flex, the sleep technicians, who showed me to my room. The accommodations were surprisingly comfortable. This was no cold, clinical laboratory, but a carpeted, air-conditioned room, complete with a queen-size bed and even that rarest of commodities in medical facilities, up-to-date magazines.
Once I was in my sleepwear, Rena and Flex began peppering my body with sensors. Within 15 minutes, I had 17 different sensors attached from head to calf. There were several electrodes on my skull to measure brain activity. There were also sensors to measure eye movement, chest and stomach movement, leg movement and heart rate. There was a microphone to record snoring sounds, a device attached under my nose to measure airflow in and out, and another placed on my fingertip to take my pulse and record the level of oxygen in my blood. A sensor attached to my chin would detail chin movement and the level of muscle relaxation.
I wondered how I would be able to sleep at all with all this equipment attached to me. But once the technicians gathered all the wires behind my head in a sort of polysomnographic ponytail, it was surprisingly comfortable. I could move easily about the room.
When I felt ready to go to sleep, Flex plugged all the wires from the sensors into a central control panel, disappeared into the next room and then, through an intercom, asked me to do a few things that would establish baseline readings. She came back in and warned me that if some of the sensors came off in the middle of the night, someone might have to come in to reattach them. Then she wished me a sweet good night and returned to her post, from which she would monitor the equipment overnight as it spewed forth data about my every breath and brain wave.
The next morning, Flex’s lilting Caribbean voice gave me a wake-up call through the speaker over the bed. She came in, removed the wires and asked me a few follow-up questions. Then I shampooed the electrode paste out of my hair, got dressed and was on my way.
A few days later, Zammit told me that although I had had one apnea (shutting down of my airway) during the night and 75 hypopneas (partial closures), they didn’t compromise the amount of oxygen in my blood or the function of my heart.
As to my snoring, he suggested that I try to lose some weight (at 5 feet 11 inches tall, I should be 15 pounds lighter, with an ideal of about 175 pounds), and that I try some “positional treatments,” tricks that help you sleep on your stomach, where you’re less likely to snore. See Little Shop of Snorers,” page 90.] If those didn’t work, he recommended a dental appliance – either a tongue-retaining device or a jaw repositioner – as the next-best bet. He also suggested that I have another overnight sleep study in a year or two, to be sure that serious sleep apnea had not developed.
I’m happy to report that I’ve lost half the weight already. I have also sewn a golf-ball pouch into the back of a few of my T-shirts. The Titleist technique is no fun, but it’s amazing how quickly it makes you stop rolling over. According to Jody, my snoring is both a little less frequent and less loud.
In fact, she recently woke me up at dawn – this time, however, not with a cranky kick but with a needy caress. She had slept right through the night and apparently had energy to burn.
After our tender tango, my girl got up and about the business of the day. I, in the time-honored male tradition of afterglow, rolled over and went back to sleep.
Dr. Stanley Coren has written a book on sleep deprivation, Sleep Thieves, and says his research shows that “for each hour under eight hours of sleep, you lose one point in IQ. And for every hour below seven you can lose two points of IQ.” Anecdotal evidence supports this. Jennifer Coppens, a 19-year-old Calgary high school student who works 25 hours a week, testifies that “most days I wake up tired.” She claims she routinely nods off in math class, and recently flunked an exam.
Dr. Coren, 54, is becoming an master of neuropsychological esoterica. In 1992 he published The Left-Handed Syndrome, which posits that southpaws die seven years younger than right-handers. “Our mechanical world is built for right-handers,” he explains. “Left-handed people die earlier due to accidents.” He is now working on a book about the psychology of dog owners. “It’s an entertaining way to shed light on the human personality,” he says.
Sleep is a more serious topic. “People generally rise early and retire early, but a biochemical change occurs at puberty and can last all the way through the person’s university years,” says Dr. Coren, a father of two fully-grown offspring. “During that time, youths stay up late and have difficulty coping with morning activity. That’s why it takes two sticks of dynamite to get them out of bed.”
Lack of sleep affects some teenagers’ brainpower more than others. Those with IQs around 115 or more can survive several hours of deprivation a night. But a teenager with an IQ of 100 who tallies a similar nightly sleep deficit can lose up to 15 IQ points a week–and risk failing exams. Dr. Coren says the IQ deficit can be eliminated by sleeping soundly on weekends. Unfortunately, “Sleep is the last thing kids think about on Fridays and Saturdays,” he observes.
The deprivation can become so severe that “microsleep,” in which the brain enters a somnambulant state for 10 seconds to a minute, results. “That’s why we hear reports of students falling asleep in class. The phenomena is dangerous if you’re driving a car.” Some U.S. states have proposed shifting high school and university classes several hours to compensate. “But this was roundly pooh-poohed,” recalls Dr. Coren. “Critics complained it would lead to cots being installed in school hallways.”
Student Coppens’ plight notwithstanding die-hard party animals don’t see what the fuss is about. “I party all the time and never flunk exams,” boasts Brian Smith, 17, of Vancouver. “Me and my buddies even party on week-nights, and we’re no worse for wear.”
Bernie Peets, general manager of UBC’s Alma Mater Society, does not think there is much to worry about. The 49-year-old father of two remarks that “today’s youth take their studies far more seriously than my generation did. And if sleep really does affect IQ, it will only take a couple of flunked exams to shock kids into falling in line.”